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There are some actors you just love to see on screen. Those actors you just know will deliver a great performance, no matter what. Thelma Ritter is one of those people. You see her name in the credits, and you think, fantastic, we’re in good hands! Ritter, like Walter Brennan, Thomas Mitchell or Fay Bainter is one of the great character performers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. But, unlike Brennan, Mitchell or Bainter, Thema Ritter never won an Academy Award. She was nominated 6 (SIX!) times, which makes her one of three women to be nominated, in any category, that many times without a win, along with Deborah Kerr and Amy Adams (all three of them are surpassed by Glenn Close), as well as the most nominated actress in the Supporting category without a win – I love these Oscar tidbits!

Thelma Ritter’s quick wit, delivery, comic timing and heart made her one of the most versatile actresses of her generation. I mean, All About Eve (1950, dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Rear Window (1954, dir. Alfred Hitchcock) AND Birdman of Alcatraz (1962, dir. John Frankenheimer)? Come on! She received her six nominations over the course of twelve years: All About Eve was the first, which she lost to Josephine Hull for Harvey (1950); then came The Mating Season (1951), which she lost to Kim Hunter for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951); then, With a Song in My Heart (1952), which I wrote about here. Gloria Grahame took the Oscar for The Bad and The Beautiful (1952); her last nomination in a row was for a movie I adore, Pickup on South Street (1953), which she lost to Donna Reed for From Here To Eternity (1953). A few years later, she was nominated again for Pillow Talk (1959). This time, Shelley Winters won it for The Diary of Anne Frank (1959); her last-ever nomination was for Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), and she lost to Patty Duke for The Miracle Worker (1962). Her career lasted decades, across many genres, and despite never winning an Oscar, her movies live on. Also, she’s one of the best people to do an impression of. Try it, it’s really fun!

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15 of Bob Hope’s best Oscars jokes

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Here we are again, Oscar season and isn’t that exciting! The thing is, I’ve posted about all things Oscars every February/March/April, these past 8 years and I thought I was running out of ideas. Until I went back on one of my posts, the one where I foolishly thought I could go up against Bob Hope with silly jokes, and realized… I haven’t written about Bob Hope yet! As we all know, he has hosted the Oscars a record 19 times and to put it into context, Billy Crystal (whom I adore) is in second place, with 9. So, Bob Hope really was the Oscars. And so I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite jokes from his many, many opening monologues. And for the record, I’ve included one George C. Scott joke, but I love ALL of Bob Hope’s jokes about Scott, pre and post-Patton. I’ve also dispensed with the Bing Crosby jokes and all the movies that are supposedly about him (‘Sons and Lovers’, ‘The Babymaker’, etc), because there are so many of them, it would be hard to pick just one; likewise, I also haven’t included the many things the ceremony is known as in Bob Hope’s house (‘Passover’, ‘Cape Fear’, ‘The Fugitive’, etc…) because, again, too many.

Here they are, in chronological order:

‘It (3D) is the biggest thing to hit the movies since Cecil B. DeMille began re-writing the Bible.’ 1953 – Ahh, when 3D was a new thing… What I love about this is, you can make the same joke about DeMille today and most people would probably still get immediately.

There is a special award for bravery for the producer who made a picture without Grace Kelly.’ 1954 – This was Grace Kelly’s year: Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and, of course, The Country Girl, for which she won the Oscar.

Some of the pictures were grim, but what realism. In fact, I’m surprised to see Susan Hayward here tonight.’ 1959. This only works if you’re familiar with I Want to Live! (1958), for which Hayward won an Oscar that night.

Mr William Wyler, will you please see the cop out front, your chariot is double parked.’ 1960 – William Wyler, of course, won the Best Director Oscar that night for Ben-Hur.

This was the year Marlon Brando became the director of a Western. It was the first picture ever made with Method horses.’ 1960 – Splendid.

We all know how Jack Lemmon got in there, lending his apartment to members of the Academy.’ 1961. You know why I love this joke.

Mary Poppins, or how I learned to stop worrying and love Jack Warner.’ 1965. Easily one of the best written jokes he ever did at the Oscars.

But isn’t it exciting? All over America, people are saying to each other, ‘I wonder who’ll win?’, and all over Beverly Hills, psychiatrics are dusting off their couches saying ‘I wonder who’ll lose’. 1965 – This is a dark one that I just adore.

This is the big night. What tension, what drama, what suspense. And what was just deciding whether the show was going on or not.’ 1967 – This is a reference to the fact that there was a strike that was resolved only thirty minutes before the show started.

Ladies and Gentlemen, before I begin, I have an announcement. After much soul-searching, I have concluded that the awesome job of emcee should not become involved in partisan bickering. At all costs, we must preserve unity and avoid further divisiveness in our great industry. Accordingly, I have decided that I will not seek nor will I accept an Oscar.’ 1968 – One of the best self-deprecating jokes he’s ever made.

What a fine turnout for the awards this year. So crowded, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice had to sit in the same seat.’ 1970. If you know the film Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, this is a wonderful joke.

How about those Swedish movies? When they shoot outside the bedroom, it’s called going on location.’ 1970 – Damn.

Patton was the story of a man who wanted to win the war, but not the Oscar’ 1971. Self-explanatory. One of the best.

‘I think The Godfather Part II has an excellent chance of winning. Neither Mr Price or Mr Waterhouse have been heard from in four days.’ – 1975 Oscars – Godfather jokes will always be funny.

He (Fred Astaire) got it for Towering Inferno. You know, it’s easy to dance good when the floor below you is on fire.’ 1975 – This is seriously one of my all-time favourites. Makes me laugh every single time.

What are your favorites? Happy Oscars!

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Oscar season is here and the ceremony is fast approaching! March 12th, to be precise. And here on the Garden, we shall continue our AND THE OSCAR DOESN’T GO TO series, with the second instalment going out to David Raksin, one of my personal favorite film composers.

David Raksin is a sort of anomaly in the film composers canon. While his contemporaries – Miklos Rosza, Max Steiner, and, in particular, Alfred Newman, who still holds the record in this category, among others – have won multiple Oscars each, Raksin won none. In fact, his most famous score, Laura (1944, dir. Otto Preminger) wasn’t even nominated! Seems ludicrous today, as it is probably one of the iconic film scores of all time – you’re hearing it in your head, right now, aren’t you? Raksin’s ethereal and enchanting melody for one of the greatest film noirs ever lives on and while it is certainly his masterpiece, his other compositions can’t be overlooked. He was nominated for two Oscars. The first one was for Forever Amber (1947, dir. Otto Preminger), which he lost to Miklos Rosza for A Double Life (1947, dir. George Cukor); his second nomination was for Separate Tables (1958, dir. Delbert Mann), which he lost to Dimitri Tiomkin for The Old Man and The Sea (1958, dir. John Sturges). One can’t help but think he could have gotten a few more nods. The Big Combo (1955, dir. Joseph H. Lewis) comes to mind.  Or Whirlpool, another Preminger noir from 1950. Or Vincente Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). And so many others. Raksin’s name isn’t too overly well-knows these days, unlike some other composers, but his music is. And I named one of the characters in my TV pilot after him. So there’s that too.

Four messed-up romances for Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, so obviously I’m going to talk about four messed-up romances from some classics to make things awkward for everyone. Here they are:

Gilda and Johnny from Gilda (1946, dir. Charles Vidor) – Man, those two… Love triangle with Gilda’s husband, check, complicated past, check, sizzling chemistry, ooooohhh check. Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford deliver looks and lines like nobody’s business in this outrageously sexy noir.

Tracy and Dexter from The Philadelphia Story (1940, dir. George Cukor) – One of the great soph-coms of its era, The Philadelphia Story could not be any more classy if it tried, so logically former couple Tracy (Katharine Hepburn) and Dexter (Cary Grant) tell each to get lost in the most marvellous ways.

Joe and Pat from Raw Deal (1948, dir. Anthony Mann) – A film noir on a messed-up romances list isn’t necessarily a surprise, but Raw Deal is particularly heart-breaking, because of Pat (Claire Trevor). Homme fatale Joe Sullivan (Dennis O’Keefe) manipulates her into getting him out of prison, then goes on the run with her AND Ann (Marsha Hunt), the woman he’s actually in love with. Crazy stuff.

Vienna and Johnny from Johnny Guitar (1954, dir. Nicholas Ray) – Saloonkeeper Vienna (Joan Crawford) and gunslinger Johnny ‘Guitar’ Logan (Sterling Hayden) are old lovers and boy, do they own this colourful Western with their intense love-hate relationship. It’s as hot and vibrant as the cinematography.

(Un)Happy Valentine’s Day!


Well, here it is, it’s 2023 and I’m already tired. Happy New Year, everyone! I had a good 2002, movie-wise and otherwise-wise. I started my Cinema Museum screenings, my Medium blog started being monetized, I had reviews published in magazines and I met some wonderful people in this wonderful city we call the Big Smoke – nobody calls it that. So, here it is, 2023 and, as per, it’s January and I give you the series of posts for this year. I realised that I’ve talked about soooo many things on my blog, particularly my several series. Screenwriters (which is now the basis or my Cinema Museum screenings – check them out), Comedy, World Cinema, etc… and I’ve yet to talk about the Oscars! Well, that’s not entirely true. But I’ve said for years that I wish the Oscars were on every day, so I shall make that happen… on this blog, once a month. AND THE OSCAR DOESN’T GO TO… will focus on the people who… never won an Oscar. I wrote three articles about this a few years and they were fairly popular. So I want to explore it a bit more.

So let’s start with one of biggest film directors of his generation, the great Ernst Lubitsch. That’s right, despite being nominated three times, Lubitsch never own a Best Director Oscar. He was nominated for The Patriot (1928), The Love Parade (1929) and Heaven Can Wait (1943), and lost to Frank Lloyd for The Divine Lady, Lewis Milestone for All Quiet on the Western Front, and Michael Curtiz for Casablanca, respectively. You probably know that Billy Wilder had a sign in his office that read How Would Lubitsch Do it?. This is not surprising. Lubitsch could craft a story like nobody’s business – look no further than Trouble in Paradise (1932), an impeccably written soph-com if there ever was one. Or Design for Living (1933), a ground-breaking sex comedy. Or Ninotchka (1939), in which Greta Garbo finally laughed. His sense of subtlety, exposition and sophistication, or the Lubitsch Touch, is the stuff of legends and it is still being copied and homaged to this day. His famous ‘Touch’ is pretty hard to put into words, but if one were to attempt it, one could argue that Lubitsch knew what to put in and what to leave out, when and in which order, for the audience to catch up, all wrapped up in the most delicious champagne-filled haze.

William Wyler and Billy Wilder’s exchange at Lubitsch’s funeral in 1947 says it all: ‘No more Lubitsch’, says Wyler. ‘Worse than that, no more Lubitsch pictures’, Wilder replies.

ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES: The Apartment (1960)

It’s Chriiiiistmaaaas! December’s ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES goes out to one of the best…. New Year’s Eve movies?? That’s right, The Apartment (1960, dir. Billy Wilder) doubles as a Christmas movie AND a New Year’s Eve movie, and, because I went to see it on the big screen at the BFI a few weeks ago, I thought I’d pay tribute to it once more. Some of you may know that it is my all-time favorite movie and part of the reason is that unbelievable screenplay. I think Wilder and Diamond’s script is one of the greatest original screenplays ever written and while it’s hard to pick just three quotes from it, I’m going to give it a good ol’ go! You know the story: C. C Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lends his apartment to his senior executives for them to bring their mistresses, so he can move up the office ladder. Things turn sweet and sour when he fals in love with elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Here are the quotes:

  • Mildred! He’s at it again!’ Dr Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen) – Dr Dreyfuss delivers some of the funniest lines in the film, but this one, when he thinks Baxter has someone else in his apartment ‘again’, is surely his crowning moment.
  • The mirror… it’s broken…’ ‘Yes I know, makes me look the way I feel.’ C. C. Baxter and Miss Kubelik – I love this exchange. Not only is this scene a fantastic plot point, but the dialogue is exquisite.
  • Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.’ ‘Shut up and deal.’ C. C. Baxter and Miss Kubelik – I know, I know, obvious one. But what an ending and it sums up their characters and their arcs perfectly.

Honestly, I didn’t even include my actual favorite one because I thought that was too obvious and, since this is such a great screenplay, I thought it’d change things up! Oh and if I had a band, I would totally call it The Kubeliks. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

World Cup of Film Noir

Sooo…here we are again. As the FIFA Men’s World Cup starts today, I thought I would go back to basics! World of Cup of Horror Movies last month was so much fun, I decided to do one for Film Noir, as it’s Noirvember! As you probably know, this was inspired by Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s radio programme, in which they did their own World Cup of Horror Movies, and the rules are quite simple: I pick two films out of a hat (or a cup), and I have to pick which one I like better. Nice, right? So here it is… The World Cup of Film Noir!

Detour (1945) or The Hitch-hiker (1953) – Going to have to go with Detour. They are both sort of similar in their road thriller way, but I absolutely adore the rawness of Detour.

The Big Combo (1955) or The Stranger (1946) – Absolutely no contest here. The Big Combo is an obsession of mine.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957) or Pickup on South Street (1953) – Love both, but going to have to say Sweet Smell of Success, which is one of my all-time favorite movies.

D.O.A. (1950) or Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Another no-brainer here. Sunset Boulevard all the way.

Crossfire (1947) or Mildred Pierce (1945) – Two of my favorites, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call Mildred Pierce a straight noir in the most basic sense, I’m going to have to pick it here. Though, on the whole, Crossfire satisfies me a little bit more on the noir front. Tough one.

T-Men (1947) or Pitfall (1948) – I’m not a big Pitfall fan. I find it a little too dull for my taste. T-Men, on the other hand, is insane. Super tense, endlessly exciting and it looks gorgeous.

Kiss me Deadly (1955) or Crime Wave (1954) – Kiss me Deadly, Kiss me Deadly, Kiss me Deadly! Love Crime Wave though.

Gilda (1946) or The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) – I find both of these films incredibly fascinating. And while I love Martha Ivers and think it’s one of the best, if not THE best suburban noir, Gilda has my vote as it was the film that made a classic movie buff.

In a Lonely Place (1950) or The Set-up (1949) – In a Lonely Place. Though I do really like The Set-up.

Private Hell 36 (1954) or The Killers (1946) – I’ve talked about both at length here on the Garden and while I adore Steve Cochran’s Homme Fatale-ness in Private Hell 36, I’m going to pick The Killers, which is probably my 5th or 6th favorite film noir of all time.

There you have it! (Un)happy Noirvember!


Noirvember is here and you know how I keep saying that The Big Combo (1955) is the most underrated film of all time? I believe that it goes beyond genre. I don’t think The Big Combo is the most underrated noir ever, I believe it’s the most underrated film ever. I’ve blogged about it numerous times and I am still as obsessed with it as the first time I watched it. But if we’re talking especially film noir, I think The Big Combo has a relatively steady following within the noir-loving community, as it should. The Mob (1951, dir. Robert Parrish), on the other hand… For a film with Broderick Crawford as wise-cracking policeman Johnny Damico going undercover to stop dodgy activities on the docks as well as some of the most hilarious noir lines after, perhaps, The Big Sleep, The Mob is inexplicably unknown and severely under-appreciated. As some of you may know, I wrote an article for Eddie Muller’s Noir City E-magazine in 2018. This was for the REMEMBER ME feature and I chose the always underrated, always terrifying and always brilliant Neville Brand. I researched and watched and re-watched a lot of his movies, including The Mob, which I hadn’t seen up until that point. I loved it and have been trying to get people to watch it ever since, so you know what to do! Here are some of my favorite quotes from it:

  1. I’ve got more influential friends than you in the Boy Scouts.’ Pawn broker to Johnny Damico – Ouch. Imagine saying that to a police officer just as he’s trying to get a good deal just because he’s a police officer. Ha!
  2. I’ll remember your face.’ ‘I’ll try to forget yours.’ Longshoreman and Johnny Damico – I mean, that’s the stuff noir is made of, but Crawford’s delivery is always priceless.
  3. How are ya, Flynn? I got a little invitation to a party for you. RSVP.’ ‘Sure, I’ll go right home and change.’ ‘It’s a sort of come-as-you-are party. Get in.’ Gunner and Johnny Damico – Gunner has his gun firmly pointed at Johnny and this is the exchange. Brilliant. In fact, their entire interaction is so slick, it makes you wish you could drop those lines in conversation, but that’s noir for ya!

(Un)Happy Noirvember!

World Cup of Classic Horror Movies

The FIFA Men’s World Cup is right around the corner and this gave me an idea. Rather, it gave film critic Mark Kermode and radio presenter Simon Mayo an idea and I am shamelessly stealing it from them. They had their own World Cup of Horror Movies on their podcast a few weeks ago, in which Mayo would draw two numbers representing two horror films and Kermode would pick his favorite. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am literally picking two (classic horror, as per) movies out of a hat as I type and I’m also watching Mayo and Kermode’s video for instructions. And I should point out that, like the real World Cup, I do not understand the rules. Here we go.

Psycho (1960) vs The Thing From Another World (1951) – Psycho. Obviously. I should point out that I really like TTFAW but I actually like John Carpenter’s version better. In fact, that is probably my all-time favorite Horror film.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932) vs The Spiral Staircase (1946) – Well, God damn it. Bagel on a bike. Heavens above. Prooooobably The Spiral Stai-, no. The Most Dangerous Game. Or maybe… Ah, damn. 1-1.

Dracula (1931) vs Freaks (1932) – Interesting. Freaks.

Cat People (1942) vs The Uninvited (1944) – Adore both, but you know I love me some Cat People.

Night of the Hunter (1955) vs I Vampiri (1957) – Please. Night of the Hunter, any day.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) vs Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957) – Obviously Plan 9 Fr-, kidding, Body Snatchers.

Nosferatu (1922) vs The Invisible Man (1933) – Oooooohhhhhhh. Hmmm, probably The Invisible Man. I adore Claude Rains and he’s brilliant in it.

Les Diaboliques (1955) vs The Wolfman (1941) – Love both, but LES DIABOLIQUES! That twist is outstanding.

Do, do we go again? Semi-finals? Dance-off? I don’t know!

ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES: Cat People (1942)

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Horror Month is here! About three years ago, I wrote a piece about Cat People (1942) and why I think Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) is such a great tragic character. And because I’m doing that whole re-visiting stuff thing, I thought I’d go back to Cat People for Horror Month’s ONE MOVIE, THREE QUOTES.

Written by DeWitt Bodeen (another SCREENPLAY BY-ee from yesteryear) and directed by Jacques Tourneur, Cat People tells the story of Irene Dubrovna, a sketch artist who believes she will turn into a panther if gives into her sexual desires. And you know what, I like Irena so much, all of the quotes are hers.

  1. ‘It’s just that cats don’t seem to like me.’ Irena – Fantastic foreshadowing and perhaps the most famous line in the film.
    1. ‘I envy them. They’re happy. They make their husbands happy. They lead normal, happy lives.’ Irena – Her desire to be ‘normal’ is a motif throughout the film and like I said in my previous piece, there is a wonderful social commentary in all of that, which is just magnificent.
    1. They torment me. I wake in the night and the trail of their feet whispers in my brain. I have no peace, for they are in me.’ Irena – Bodeen’s screenplay is filled with these quotes and I personally adore them. Irena’s torment is heart-wrenching but her vulnerability is endearing. A brilliant character from a brilliant film.

Happy Horror Month!